The book’s here! Knitting Fabric Rugs, by Karen Tiede published by Storey Publishing, photography by Kip Dawkins, is in bookstores now. Much of what is on this site contributed to the book’s creation.

Pink and Green Ladders

Pink and Green Ladders

Fabric Rugs, Handmade in America,

From Rags.

Would you love to use more green products to furnish your home, but just can’t find what you want in today’s colors?  Rag rugs have been “green” for more than 200 years, but for most of that time, they were utilitarian rather than fashionable; contributing to the comfort of a home much more than they did to its eye appeal.  Many of the “rag rugs” you can find on the market today are either pretty plain, or so “festive” (that is, multi-colored) that they don’t go with anything.

Imagine how wonderful your home would look if you could find accent rugs and wall hangings that were both “green” AND attractive, striking and eye-catching? Rugs that are Art as much as they are Craft?

I’d like to invite you to take a close look at my art rugs and discover why so many collectors have already decided that a unique (no two alike, ever) art rug from Karen Tiede Studio was exactly the right solution for a particular design challenge in their home!

Teal and Blue Lattice 2

Teal and Blue Lattice hand knit rag rug (sold)

Imagine how it would feel to hear your guests say, “wow, that’s a great rug!” and be able to tell them, “Yes, and it’s all recycled fabric, too!” (instead of hearing them say, “I got one like that when we were in Mexico…”)
The “Color*10″ color selection system used in Rugs from Rags’ art rugs is what produces the deep RICHNESS of each rug.  Inspired by color masters Kaffe Fassett, Jinny Beyer, and Freddy Moran, who said that “if 10 colors don’t work, try 100,” each major color and shade in these rugs comprises colors selected from at least 10 different sources.  (Excepting solid stripes in some of the woven rugs.)

From across the room, the rugs are striking graphic elements.  To appreciate how many different elements make up the striking effect, you have to take a closer look:

Detail of rug.

Detail of Brown Triskele (Triple Spiral) hand knit rug, showing the number of different fabrics used in an approx. 6″ sample.

This photo shows an approximately 6” square section of one of my newest rugs, Brown Triple Spiral (Triskele, for my Celtic collectors).  I can count 22 different fabrics in this section alone.  The rest of the rug is as richly varied.  Each of the major shadings in any of my rugs is comprised of at least 10 different fabrics, which means that the finished product not only sparkles and shimmers in its variation, but also plays well with all the colors in your own décor.

(If you want to key off one of my rugs to pick a color story for a room, that’s fine by me—you won’t be the first!)

All of my rugs are created from abandoned textiles, found locally in the Raleigh Durham area.  (Did you know that some rag rugs found in big box stores are made from clothing discarded in the US, shipped to third  world countries for processing, and then shipped back to the US?  THAT’S hardly “green!”).

Recycled t shirts.  Old blue jeans.  Linens found at a thrift shop.  I clean everything I find, rough it out into flat fold fabric, and store it by color story until I’m ready to create a new work of textile art.

As the images throughout this site show, “green” doesn’t have to mean “ugly.”  Sometimes the fabric looks even better in the rug than it did when it was new on the hanger.  (Some of the brighter rugs have been nominated for the “Best Actual Reuse of a Bridesmaid’s Dress” Award!)

Eight quarters

Sideways view of a woven rug (in this case, Springtime) compared to $2 in quarters, to show thickness. (Excludes denim.)

My rugs are thick.  My woven rugs are at least 8 quarters (about one Euro coin standing on end) thick except for the denim rugs, which don’t pack quite as tightly.  I weave in a 2/2 twill structure which protects the vulnerable warp threads (the over-under threads in most store-bought rag rugs) from wear, so my woven rugs last for a long time.  This makes for a much thicker rug, too.

Standing rag rug

Standing rag rug, with no additional support.

My woven rugs will stand up by themselves.  Try doing that with the rag rugs you find in big box stores!

My hand knit rugs are just as thick, but squishier underfoot, and WAY fun to walk on barefoot!  Lots of texture…  Feet love texture.

Rugs for the Wall

Some of my collectors have dogs who chew (dogs who don’t chew LOVE these rugs, actually, and so do dogs who do chew, but I don’t recommend buying my art for dogs in the latter category, unless you REALLY love your dogs…).  Some of my collectors have physical conditions that make area rugs inadvisable.

And most commonly, some of my collectors have Big Walls.

Big homes come with big walls, and big walls are noisy.  They echo, and reflect sound, and it can be difficult to have a private conversation because the children on the balcony hear every word you say.

When used on the wall, textile art in general, and my rugs in particular, take echo and reverberation out of a room.   These rugs eat sound.  Hung on a large wall that would otherwise reflect sound waves, either a woven or knit rug will simply absorb those noisy echos right out of you world.

Paintings on canvas can act as a drumhead and almost amplify sound; highly textured art like these knit rugs simply swallows sound waves.  Waitresses at a local restaurant known for its “bright” sound (all concrete surfaces) love the months I exhibit there; it’s much easier to hear their customers’ orders when the conversations from other tables aren’t bouncing all around the room.

If you need art for a wall that causes acoustic problems in your home, a large textile work like this rug may be exactly the solution for you.

I don’t claim an acoustic rating; the testing for those ratings is cost-prohibitive and would have to be carried out on each individual rug.  You can imagine, though:  sound in a room full of curtains and rugs and upholstered furniture is completely different from the way a room sounds with concerte walls and hardwood floors.

Black and White and Gray Spiral hand knit rag rug

Black and White and Gray Spiral hand knit rag rug

BTW, some people who love the minimalist esthetic with hard surfaced flooring, blinds rather than drapes, lots of glass, and leather upholstery, find that they have trouble hearing conversation in their own home.  In some cases, this is related to the number of hard surfaces rather than any innate hearing problem.  Just the right textile art on the walls, instead of paintings, may be one solution that doesn’t destroy the overall minimalist look you worked so hard to achieve.

Don’t miss out.  Each rug is unique.  While I can sometimes recapture a concept, I can never duplicate any of the rugs exactly.  If you see a rug you want, have it shipped to your home this week.

Because they are made from unique garments that appear briefly in the recycle stream, no rug can be exactly duplicated.  Once sold, they are gone.

I can provide large (6 MB) images of any of the “available” rugs for closer study.  In some cases, I can provide swatches.

All rugs are sold subject to a 30-day, free shipping return policy (restricted to non-smoking clients, only, please).  You can test any of the rugs in your home for 30 days and see how much your feet love the feeling of stepping out of bed onto thick comfy interesting texture every morning.

See something that’s close, but not quite what you need?  Custom work is available, from my fabrics or yours.    Call me.

Still have that bridemaid’s dress?  Too many “souvenir” t shirts you’ll never wear?  Have them turned into your very own bespoke yoga mat. Call me.

If you are someone who is willing to search for exactly the right solution for every design challenge in your home, you’ve come to the right place for custom and stock handmade accent rugs and textile wall art.

PS: And if you love the color and design elements but don’t have a need for a rug right now, look for my collection of designer fabrics and wallpapers based on these textile designs, at Spoonflower soon.  (Sign up for the newsletter and you’ll know as soon as it’s ready.)